- June 12, 2015
Karl “Dee” Maret grew up in Dalton, Ga., with an unusual name, and years later took an unusual path to a career in commercial real estate.
Today, Maret — the “Dee” is short for Duane, his middle name, a moniker used to differentiate him from his father, Karl — is managing director for Coldwell Banker Commercial's six Florida offices, ranging from Pensacola to Naples.
And though many of Maret's Gulf Coast competitors chase larger deals, Coldwell Banker's 130 commercial agents in the state — 48 from Tampa to Naples — focus on relatively smaller sales transactions and on solidifying a niche.
“Our bread and butter are deals ranging from $500,000 to $10 million,” Maret says. “There are tons of investors in that arena, and we provide them with individualized attention. We've also found that if we concentrate on smaller to mid-sized markets, we can really dominate.”
Unlike many commercial brokerages, too, Coldwell Banker gets a boost from a vast resident agent referral network under parent NRT's corporate umbrella.
The numbers bear out the strategy's success. Last year, Coldwell Banker's Florida commercial agents closed nearly $601 million in sales and completed leases valued at just less than $223 million.
“Coldwell Banker has great brand-name awareness,” says Maret, 54. “People know who we are because the company has been around since 1906.”
But while Coldwell Banker's trajectory has been steady, Maret's own path to real estate was a circuitous one.
Beginning in 1987, he worked as a reporter and editor for the Tampa Tribune and then-St. Petersburg Times, before becoming the top editor for a small community paper in Georgia for five years.
In 2004, he left journalism and moved back to Florida, where he earned his real estate license and went to work selling residential properties for Adams Cameron & Co., the largest independently owned brokerage firm in Volusia County. Out of roughly 250 agents, Maret was named its Rookie of the Year.
“He was totally new to real estate, but he was willing to learn and do whatever he needed to do for the customer,” said Marge Allison, an Adams Cameron manager and associate broker. “His personality is very easy going; he makes people feel comfortable.”
Three years after joining Adams Cameron, Maret moved again — this time to Tampa and into commercial real estate. Joining Coldwell Banker, he sold and leased commercial properties for the next five years, weathering the recession by relying on bank-owned deals and Certified Commercial Investment Member training to hone his skills.
“I found him to be honest, and he has old-fashioned values,” says Bob Kershner, who hired Maret to sell some Ybor City industrial property in 2009. “He does his homework and put the time in to get the job done right. And he never answered a question if he didn't know the answer. He'd find out and follow up.”
In 2012, Maret transitioned into management with Coldwell Banker, and was named Tampa district manager the following year. In 2014, he took over Coldwell Banker's commercial division for the entire state.
“I realized I'd spent most of my professional life in management or leadership roles,” Maret says. “And the truth is, I am probably a better manager than I was a sales person, though with Coldwell Banker, that's made easier because we have all the tools and the expertise managers need to help agents, and we have a great network and footprint in Florida.”